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President Trump should sign VA health system transparency law immediately

The Exponent Telegram

With the U.S. House’s unanimous approval of the Improving Safety and Security for Veterans Act of 2019, veterans and their families are one step closer to having better accountability in the VA health-care system.

After the murders of at least seven veterans by a staffer at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center, as well as an untold number of other issues at facilities in West Virginia and throughout the country, our congressional leaders have said enough.

First introduced in the U.S. Senate by West Virginia Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, then later in the House by Reps. David McKinley, Carol Miller and Alex Mooney, the new act increases the transparency on reports detailing quality of care, as well as criminal acts.

It requires the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to submit detailed reports on patient safety and quality of care at VA medical centers.

It also ensures that Congress, veterans, and their families are fully informed on the policies and procedures in place throughout the system.

And a key element in light of the criminal transgressions in Clarksburg, it mandates that the VA must submit a detailed report and timeline of events surrounding the deaths at the facility once all criminal investigations are complete.

Manchin, Capito and McKinley remain outspoken critics of the handling of the Clarksburg incidents and continue to call for more action and question how one employee could have carried out such heinous acts.

“I am pleased the House of Representatives unanimously passed this bipartisan, commonsense legislation that will help increase transparency at the VA. We have faced issues of transparency surrounding the murder of at least seven veterans at the Clarksburg VAMC, resulting in a lack of confidence in the VA,” Manchin said.

“I can’t imagine having a loved one murdered while in the VA’s care and after almost two years still not knowing the full picture,” Manchin said. “I look forward to the president signing this legislation into law and helping bring justice and peace of mind to our Veterans and their families.”

Capito said the Clarksburg cases served as a “gruesome wakeup call underscoring the need for a more thorough look at security systems and procedures across the VAMC system.”

“This bill is a step forward to help ensure our veterans are protected and safely cared for while in VA hands,” Capito said.

McKinley was hopeful the new legislation would help ease the victims’ families’ pain, knowing steps are being taken to prevent a reoccurrence.

“We cannot begin to understand the grief and anger of the families whose loved ones were killed at the Clarksburg VA,” McKinley said. “Our bipartisan bill will ensure more transparency and accountability within the VA. It will also provide Congress with a better understanding of what happened in Clarksburg, and how to prevent it from ever happening again.”

We applaud Sens. Manchin and Capito, as well as Reps. McKinley, Miller and Mooney for leading this effort.

And we urge President Trump to sign this bill immediately. Our veterans and their families deserve better. This is a step toward that.